Canada has long been a welcoming destination for international students, contributing immensely to the country’s social, cultural, and economic diversity. However, recent challenges, including the unsustainable growth of some institutions and inadequate support for students, have prompted the government to implement measures for a more stable and secure international student system.
Stabilizing Growth Through a Two-Year Cap
The Honourable Marc Miller, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship, recently announced a groundbreaking decision to implement a two-year cap on international student permit applications. This move aims to stabilize new growth and address concerns related to housing, healthcare, and other essential services. The cap, set for 2024, will result in approximately 360,000 approved study permits, reflecting a 35% decrease from the previous year.
In a fair and strategic approach, individual provincial and territorial caps have been established, considering population weightage. This ensures more significant decreases in provinces where international student populations have experienced the most unsustainable growth. It’s important to note that study permit renewals, master’s and doctoral degree pursuits, as well as elementary and secondary education, are excluded from the cap. Current study permit holders will not be affected by these changes.
Provincial Involvement and Attestation Letters
To implement this cap effectively, starting January 22, 2024, every study permit application submitted to IRCC will require an attestation letter from the respective province or territory. Provinces and territories are expected to establish a streamlined process for issuing these letters to students by March 31, 2024.
Post-Graduation Work Permit Program Changes
Aligning with these cap measures, modifications to the Post-Graduation Work Permit Program (PGWPP) criteria have been introduced to ensure a balanced and sustainable approach:
1. Curriculum Licensing Arrangements: As of September 1, 2024, international students pursuing a study program under curriculum licensing arrangements will no longer be eligible for a post-graduation work permit. This change aims to address concerns about oversight and eligibility issues associated with these programs. This will impact several private schools who currently offer PGWPP for some programs.
2. Extended Work Permits for Graduates: Graduates of master’s and other short graduate-level programs will now be eligible to apply for a 3-year work permit. This change provides them with a more substantial period to gain work experience and explore opportunities for permanent residence.
3. Limited Open Work Permits: Spouses of international students enrolled in master’s and doctoral programs will retain eligibility for open work permits. However, spouses of students in other study levels, including undergraduate and college programs, will no longer be eligible for open work permits.
These temporary measures are slated to be in effect for two years, with a reassessment of new study permit applications in 2025. During this period, the government will collaborate with provinces, territories, designated learning institutions, and national education stakeholders to devise a sustainable path forward for international students.
The comprehensive approach aims to ensure that genuine students receive adequate support and resources for a rewarding study experience in Canada. Simultaneously, it strives to stabilize the overall number of students arriving and alleviate pressures on essential services across the country.
These strategic measures reflect Canada’s commitment to fostering a robust international student system that benefits both students and the nation as a whole.
María Campos Ozaine Immigration Lawyer and Notary Public and has practiced Immigration Law since 2012 with an extensive portfolio of successful cases both inside and outside of Canada. Now more than ever it is important to seek professional help when applying for a study permit, don’t waste time or risk your future, send us a message today.